Contraluz Opal Distinction?

Hello. I’m hoping someone can help me understand the distinction between a regular precious opal and a contraluz. From what I understand, it’s contraluz when it displays color play when lit from behind. I’ve never personally seen one, so I asked on a Reddit sub if this opal is. They said it isn’t but I couldn’t get any additional information, other than it isn’t common for Ethiopian opals. If it’s not, it’s not, and that’s fine (actually it’s good because I was going to use this one in a ring but would cut a different one if it was and I’m short on time). Honestly. I’m not arguing that it is. I do hope to understand why it isn’t, though. Can anyone explain it to me?

Oh, also, I know it’s not a great stone or anything. I’m not trying to sell it and hype the price. I’m actually giving it away, literally.

Hi there!
I think contra luz opals are found only in Mexico, in the town of Jaliscos maybe? And the play of color is only visible if it’s held up to a light source. I’ve never seen one of them before but this is the little bit I have learned about them. Hope it helps. Keep on “rockin” :rock: H

Thanks! I did read that they’re usually from Jalisco but I thought I read that they can be other places, it’s just a lot more rare. But then I also don’t have a location for this one, so for all I know maybe it’s from there anyway. I mean, it looks like Welo to me, but I don’t know much of anything anyway. lol

Based on your comment, it’s ONLY when it’s backlit? This one works both ways, so that’s why it’s not?

Have you had the opal’s authenticity verified by a professional? I’m not sure if it is a real opal at all, unfortunately, it doesn’t look real to me but pictures are not always the best way to verify anything.

If the opal is real, then from my understanding the fact that you can see play of colors in or out of a direct light source would be the reason why it’s not a contraluz opal

I haven’t had a professional verify the authenticity, but I cut it myself from rough that I cleaned dirt out of. Also it’s hydrophane and I don’t think synthetic opals would be. I’m not sure what makes it look like it’s not real to you, but it definitely is.

Hi Wendy,
I didn’t mean to offend or upset you at all, if I did, as I said before, photographs
can be misleading, especially if they are not crystal clear and out of focus.
My first thought when I saw the first photo was that it was a glass marble, and the second photo looked like crystal or glass with some coloring inside but neither photo made me think of an opal right away, I haven’t viewed your original post today, not sure if you’ve added any more photos, some close-ups and more pristine, pics of the opal, may be helpful. You are correct about hydrophanes not being able to be lab-created. I believe you, just was giving honest feedback based solely on what I saw in the photos. I have quite a few Ethiopian Welo opals in my collection, but they are all rough, natural and not cut or polished, so I don’t have much experience with what cut, polished opals are supposed to look like, I have only been taught that if you see a lot of colors that are all moving in one direction, and/or if vertical column-like structures are visible inside the opal, it is likely not authentic. I hope you are able to find the answer as to why you were told that what you have is not a contra luz opal, and that my response was at least a bit helpful in answering that question. Have a good rest of your weekend and keep on rock-in!

According to, there is also contra luz opal found in Morrow County Oregon.

Definition of the direct translation of Spanish contra luz is “against the light,” so any opal that shows play of color when lit only from behind can be called contra luz.

With that being said, most non-contra luz opals only show play of color when lit from the front.

I have been unable to find any other examples of an opal showing play from both front and back.

I would like for you to do a test with a point light in a darkened room (a room where there is insufficient ambient light for play of color to be present). Hold the opal up with the point light behind and in front, and see if it still shows play of color. If it shows play of color from both directions, you may have a hybrid, and further research will need to be conducted.